The History of Men Playing Against Boys
What do you write after a team shoots 65.8% (50-76 field-goals) on their way to a 114-83 win over the Wizards?
Chalk it up to the Boston Celtics being a great-passing veteran team at home and the Wizards being a non-passing, relatively inexperienced team on the road and move on, I suppose.
Oh, lest I forget a stat fact that you’ll surely be made aware of by others: the Boston Celtics had 32 assists, the Washington Wizards had 31 made field-goals.
But let’s go back to this field-goal percentage thing. It’s kind of like winning in overtime when you didn’t deserve it … a win is a win.
Sure, the Celtics were pretty hot and likely would have been scorching the nets against most teams on this very night on their own parquet floor. But 65% is 65% … this game won’t be exempt from the Wizards’ defensive statistical record no matter how in the zone the Celtics were.
Boston’s starters (Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Shaquille O’Neal) took one look at a Wizards bunch that can best be described as a room full of people who all just met and speak different languages trying to put together a piece of IKEA furniture without any instructions, shrugged their shoulders and shot 35-49 from the field, a cool 71.4%.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, since 1986-87, aka the last 25 seasons including this one, the Wizards/Bullets have allowed an opponent to shoot over 60% for a game 18 times. That’s 18 times over 1,945 games. Well, make it 19 times over 1,946 games now.
Actually, make it once.
The Wizards have never allowed an opponent to shoot 65-percent from the field or better in the last 25 seasons until Wednesday night. The 65.8% shot by Boston is the most since January 31, 1990 when the world champion Detroit Pistons shot 64.7% in a 133-109 win over the Washington Bullets.
And believe it or not, the franchise has also once before let an opponent accrue 30 or more assists in a game, a number which also exceeded the Wizards/Bullets’ field-goals made for said game (since ’86-87). On April 20, 1988, the Milwaukee Bucks racked up an amazing 46 assists on 56 made field-goals (while the Bullets made just 42 field-goals) en route to a 132-94 shellacking.
Surprisingly enough, however, Wednesday night was the third time this season one team had more assists than the other team had made field goals. On November 7th, the Los Angeles Lakers had 33 assists to 32 Portland Trailblazer field-goals, and on November 15th, the New Jersey Nets had 32 assists to 30 field-goals from the Los Angeles Clippers. (source: Elias Sports Bureau)
And while I’m not sure the Wizards’ loss to the Celtics could be classified as a “shellacking” like that Bucks win over the Bullets — whatever that exactly means — Flip Saunders probably most aptly put is this way after the game:
“It was like men playing against boys tonight.”
Right now, this quote probably ranks third among Flip’s quotes (at least in terms of his tenure in Washington) after “Don’t think it can’t get any worse because it can,” and, “I didn’t sign up for this.”
These are the days of the lives of a rebuilding team in the NBA … and these numbers are likely indicators of much more past that surface assessment.
The Wizards next have a chance for improvement at home against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday.